Arsene Wenger is one of the best managers in world football. He transformed Arsenal -a team with a reputation for being boring before he took over – into the most exciting team in England. His teams play with an intricate pass and move style that is sublime to watch. Wenger was the first manager to perfect this style in England and raise it to unprecedented heights.
For years it was only Wenger’s Arsenal that were capable of challenging Manchester United for the top prizes and they succeeded in winning the Premier League title on three occasions.
Wenger did all this on a much smaller budget than his main rivals. He never spends big money on a world class player; instead he buys youngsters with potential and develops them into world class players.
In the beginning
Wenger grew up in his parent’s pub and claims he learnt about tactics from listening to the conversations about football he heard as a youngster. He was always very studious. He got a master’s degree and started learning English while playing football as an amateur.
Wenger played professional football as a defender for various clubs in France without ever being outstanding. He took his coaching badges at the first opportunity and his first managerial post was as the youth team coach at Strasbourg.
Slow start at Nancy
Wenger’s first managerial post was at Nancy where he stayed for three seasons before resigning after the club were relegated from the top flight. Despite being relegated with Nancy, Wenger’s reputation remained intact and he was offered the vacant manager’s position at Monaco.
Wenger finds winning formula at Monaco
After arriving at Monaco, Wenger signed Englishmen Glenn Hoddle and Mark Hateley and led the team to the French League title in his first season in charge.
The following season Wenger brought future World Player of the Year George Weah to Europe but Monaco could only achieve a third placed finish in the league and lost in the final of the Coupe de France to Marseille.
During his time at Monaco, Wenger developed his footballing philosophy. He was convinced that putting his faith in young players would lead to success.
He promoted Lilian Thuram and Emmanuel Petit from the reserves and both went on to become World Cup winners with the French national team. Wenger also gave debuts to Thierry Henry and David Trezeguet.
Monaco won the Coupe de France in 1990 and got to the Cup Winner’s Cup final in 1992 but were beaten 2-0 by Werder Bremen. Wenger couldn’t manage another French title though as his team finished runners up two years running before falling away into mid table.
They did, however, get to the semi finals of the Champions League in 1994 where they were beaten by AC Milan who went on to lift the trophy.
Surprisingly Wenger was dismissed after a poor start to the 1994/5 season. Due to his success at Monaco, particularly in Europe, Wenger had built a reputation across Europe and had several clubs happy to offer him a job.
Grampus Eight and Manager of the Year
Given the reputation Wenger now had across Europe, it was possibly a strange decision to go to Japan. But in January 1995 Wenger became the new manager of Nagoya Grampus Eight.
He spent 18 months in charge and led the club to the Emperor’s Cup and a second placed finish in the J. League. Wenger won the J. League Manager of the Year award for his success with Grampus Eight.
Wenger arrives at Arsenal – Read more